Thursday, March 29, 2012

Night at the Museum

Not everyone can say they have spent the night at a museum, but my husband & I can!  It's probably not even crossed most people's mind, even after seeing the Ben Stiller movie.  A couple years ago two of our friends wed at the Historisch Openlucht Museum (Historic Open Air Museum) here in Eindhoven.  It was an incredible experience.  I wish I could say the point of this blog was to fill you in on the details of their wedding but actually it has more to do with what happened the next morning.  Yesterday morning my daughter & I were out for a long walk, and when we passed the museum I couldn't help but chuckle thinking of the fun we had there.  I've told the story a million times, but now I actually have pictures to better explain it.  Our friends married twice that day, once in a traditional Dutch ceremony and again in a Wiccan ceremony at the museum.  (The museum is based on a glimpse of what Dutch life in the middle ages would have been like.)  After the ceremony, and a few fun events like wood chopping and bread baking, it was time to celebrate.  The museum allows you to borrow clothes & dress in character, sit around bonfires playing guitars, and eat & drink well into the evening.  A small group of guests were even allowed to spend the night, what a treat and privilege.  I had packed a bag, like we were supposed to, but my husband thought he'd wing it.  In the wee hours of the morning it was finally time to retire; everyone had returned their middle-age costumes, everyone except my husband.  After quite a few drinks he decided the comfy loose costume was going to be better to sleep in then his Hugo Boss suit (I had mentioned quite a few times he should pack pajamas).  But according to the rules of the museum the costume had to go back.  So at some time after 2AM we head to the sleeping quarters.  The sleeping quarter was a thatched roof building (much like the ones in the above picture), dirt floors, sticks for beds, animal skins for blankets, and a chicken walking around.  Awesome, if we had maybe thought to bring more than one sleeping bag.  Luckily the alcohol helped the sleeping situation, especially when other wedding goers started filtering into the wooden hut an hour or so later - everyone slept in the same open building.  The next morning we were up early, maybe it was the cold, maybe it was the rooster crowing.  We were supposed to stay for breakfast, eating the bread we had helped make the day before, but we missed our young daughter.  Not wanting to wake anyone, we decided we would find a way out of the museum ourselves and explain things later.  We packed up our things and headed for the exit, but it was locked.  We walked a bit further to the emergency exit, but of course it too was locked.  The museum overlooks a large pond, so we walked to the edge and looked to see if there was a way around, but there was a fence all the way to the water.  Apparently part of the deal is if you stay the night you get locked into the museum, and one of the guests holds on to the key until the staff return the next day.  We didn't know who had the key, and like I said, we didn't want to wake everyone up.  So my husband had the brilliant idea to jump the wooden fence lining the museum.  Here's a picture of the wooden fence.  It's easily almost 10ft tall!  We were on the inside so there were slats we could use to climb up, but once over the top it was a long drop, not to mention the stakes at the top!  As I clung to the top I panicked, I didn't want to hurt myself.  Maybe 10yrs ago I would have jumped but I couldn't bring myself to do it.  All the while my husband is encouraging me do it, pushing me up by the butt trying to help me over.  At some point I started laughing, kind of hysterically, I laugh when I panic.  Refusing to do it I try and climb back down but my husband will not let me, he didn't have the view of the stakes like I did.  I start squealing (and laughing), we're making quite a commotion at this time.  Assuming (you know what that does) everyone was asleep we kept on at this for a good few minutes, then we heard one of the wedding goers behind us, "is everything o.k.?"  I was mortified.  My husband then let me down, and I began trying to explain how I ended up clinging to the side of the fence in what looked like a prison escape.  Luckily she knew who had the key and within minutes were outside of the museum.  I'm sure she had an odd story to tell everyone over breakfast, I can't imagine what we looked like!  And if our friends who hosted this event happen to read this blog, we truly did have a wonderful time at your wedding and party, this is just another notch on things we've gotten into together in the years we've been friends!!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


According to the dictionary, sculpture means the art of carving, modeling, welding, or otherwise producing figurative or abstract works of art in three dimensions.  I find even the definition is interesting.  I love sculptures; they're one of my favorite art forms.  Around our apartment we have a lot of different sculptures, ranging from wood African masks to metal & glass suns.  My husband probably doesn't care what I use to decorate the house, as long as I display his golf trophies (also a form of sculpting).  I thought for today's blog I would show you a few of my favorite pieces around my apartment.  I am not a high-end art collector by any means, I could actually careless about the price or creator, it's about the piece.
One of my favorite (and I think my husbands also) is the sun/moon vase we picked up in Key West around New Year's 2001/2002.  It was actually a gift for my mother, but truth be told she didn't really like it and accepted it to be polite.  (Occasionally we get a gift wrong, oops.)  She did her best to display it, it should have fit perfect in her colorful Floridian home, but it didn't.  It kept getting moved around, buried further and further away, until it was almost unnoticeable.  Then after being honest with each other the vase ended up here with us in the Netherlands.  It's bright, it's unique, there are different deigns on each side, and the sun & moon are something I have always seemed to fall back on for abstract decorations.
Another piece in our house is the Cambodian pipe that a close friend brought back to us after a trip to Asia.  this piece survived the 2004 tsunami in Phuket - as well did our friends.  The carvings in the wood are incredible, there are old with canes, turtles, dragons, flowers, you name it.  Every time you look at it you can find something new.  The pipe even works, at least it used to until we dropped it a few years back and had to super glue a piece.  Smoking super glue is obviously out of the question, now it just reigns over the entryway to our apartment.

The last piece I want to share with you is one of my own, circa 1998.  When I discovered pottery/ceramics class during high school a new world opened up for me.  I enlisted in every art class I could, from drawing to photography (I even dabbled in drafting/architecture).  I hadn't yet fully discovered my writing skills and these classes brought my colorful imagination to life.  Sure I pumped out the usual pottery projects, bowls and vases, but this one was and is my favorite.  At that time in my life Salvador Dali was a big influence, so I liked the melting effect of the piece.  It was like a puzzle, each piece helped to build the big picture.  If I had actually attended class as often as I should, I might have produced better pieces, but my teachers knew getting me to attend and stay awake was the biggest challenge of all.

One thing I enjoy so much about the city I live in is the art.  You can find sculptures everywhere you turn.  I am trying my best to stir my daughters interest in them also.  We often walk through a park known for its sculptures; it's nice to know people/s work can be admired while also enjoying nature.  The next time I visit the park I'll have to take pictures of my favorite sculptures and share them with you.  Maybe one day I'll retrieve my drawings from The States and share my crazy abstract sketches/drawings with you also.  Oddly enough I don't think I have it in me anymore to draw or sculpt, it was definitely a phase.  But I am happy enjoying other people's talents.  I think we're all given a talent, it just takes time to hone in on it.  Embrace your talent, why live life hating your job, when your hobby or talent could become your job!  (Says the woman too afraid to send her books to an agent/publisher!!!)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


DWOTD = Dutch Word of the Day, it's a fun website about Dutch words and phrases.  Like so often you hear of things via-via (word of mouth is great marketing), and I found out about this site through a friend at M&T's.  I've lived in the Netherlands long enough to know most of the words and phrases I have seen on the site but it's still interesting to hear someone else's take on the word (so much can be lost in translation).  I hope my family abroad will also appreciate this site!  My parents are always trying to pick up Dutch words here & there... my Dad likes to post things on Facebook in Dutch and my Mom wants to learn words so she can communicate with my daughter.  (Our daughter is 2 1/2 and bi-lingual, but she is still so young she mixes the English & Dutch.)  I also hope my foreign friends living in the Netherlands enjoy this site, it's a nice way to learn words (you have to start somewhere when taking on a new language).  I am fascinated with words.  When I was kid my parents had a "bodybuilding phase" and I was stuck at the gym multiple evenings a week, I would tote my thick red dictionary to the waiting area, plop down on a couch, and read read read.  In elementary & middle school, I was enrolled in ALPHA classes and words were also made to be fun - designing a city and everything had to start with the letter "S" (fun kid challenges).  Now that I am a bi-lingual adult (didn't learn Dutch until I was in my 20's - I'm still learning), the challenges have changed.  Nowadays I am just trying to remember the English word for things I haven't said in a while, it's amazing what you'll forget.  One of the last times I was in The States I wanted whip cream on my coffee and I kept calling it mousse, she looked quite confused but figured it out.  My mother is always having to fill in my sentences, she hears this often, "uh, um, urgh, what's the word I'm looking for... you know that thing, um."  Maybe I should check into an English word of the day site, ha-ha!  As we've all heard in the past, it's important to keep learning and to keep flexing our brains no matter what our age.  I have family members in their 70's & 80's still earning college degrees, will that be you?  Well anyway, I'll keep this post short, just wanted to promote a cool finding!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Clothing Style

My clothing style... casual, sporty, preppy.  I don't think there's a name for it because I myself don't even know my style anymore.  It was so simple when I lived in Florida, it was hot hot hot, so that meant less what better.  Less was also easier.  A fun tank top, a pair of denim shorts, flips-flops, maybe some jewelry and I was done.  I didn't live in NYC or LA, I didn't have to think about being trendy or stylish.  Plus I weighed a lot less (a lot younger), making it easy to buy clothes and look nice in everything.  Then I moved to the Netherlands, where I consider the women to be quite stylish/trendy (not all of my friends agree, I would never survive where they're from).  For years I refused to buy clothes here, their style was far from mine.  Over time I started to give in, even though I look ridiculous in most of the Dutch clothes.  I've figured out a way to combine the Dutch and American clothes so that when I leave the house I still have an ounce of confidence left.  One of the biggest issues I have with style/trends is it's impracticality.  As you might have read in many of posts, I walk a lot, and everywhere.  When it's an hour round trip to take my daughter to toddler swimming class, do you really think I'm going to bust out the heels?  I get sweaty, it rains often, do you think I want to risk messing up any of my nice clothes or jackets?  I have a 2 1/2 yr old - I get dirty often, I'm home a lot, and I'm constantly cleaning or running errands; most trendy clothes just don't suit these situations.  Plus, I'm frugal (cheap), I don't want to wear my expensive clothes to run to the grocery store or to drop my kid off at school.  So this leaves me wearing jeans and cotton shirts most everyday.  I went to a birthday party recently and as I looked around at the Dutch women they were all dressed in some version of the same outfit.  A blazer or short leather jacket, a scarf, skinny jeans, and some type of ankle length shoes.  The scarf; I don't understand how they all do it, it would drive me crazy, I would feel as if I were being choked the entire time.  And the skinny jeans; it took me forever to understand this trend, I like loose fitting jeans and dare I say it, boot-cut.  But like I said, I occasionally try out the trends, and for the life of me, I can't find a pair of skinny jeans that fit me right.  I have decent legs, you'd think skinny jeans would suit me, but I also have a decent size midriff thanks to having a child and my eating habits.  And in order to get the pants to fit my waist, the legs end up being too loose.  My sister-in-law loves fashion and trends.  She looks nice, it looks fun, but there are few outfits of hers I would ever wear.  She tries to help me, she'll dress me up, put me in front of the mirror and wow, I look ridiculous.  How does an outfit that looks so trendy on one person look so silly on me?  It's not that I don't have the confidence to wear it, it's just not me.  I went to a party over the Christmas holidays, I gave in, dressed a bit more on the Dutch side, everyone noticed, everyone complimented me... and when I got home the first thing I did was strip it off because I was outrageously uncomfortable.  I put on my jeans, a tank top, a zip-up sweatshirt (all American Eagle, the only brand I truly love), and I could breath and relax again.  I'm not blind to style and fashion, even though my outfit choices might appear that way sometimes.  I look at websites and store fronts, they have so many great ideas.  But they also have so many layers and accessories.  I'm not on the thin side, and I'm constantly hot, layers are the last thing I want to wear.  My mother loves shopping, fashion, and make-up, what happened to me?  Don't think I'm not vain, because I can be.  I might be dressed casual but I'm always clean and have on make-up, I wouldn't leave the house otherwise.  (There is only one day a week I leave the house without make-up, toddler swimming  class days.)  I wonder if I'll ever find my style again... it's not just the move here that's changed my views on style, I'm getting older, what used to be acceptable no longer is.  Sometimes I flip threw my clothes and wonder how it's possible to own so many t-shirts with logos (long & short sleeve) or so many polo's, where are the blouses?  I try, and I try, I order a million things from H&M, keep one thing and ship the rest back.  H&M is one of the few places I shop in the Netherlands, mostly I count on my birthday or Christmas and the jeans my Mom mails me!  I keep telling myself once I have a car and will not be forced to walk everywhere my time will come... I'll be able to dress impractical and stylish, and will not have to worry about being hot and/or the climate conditions.  But until then, everyone is just going to have to deal with my boring, "relaxed" style.  I found a picture from dixi3chik/Polyvore, it's the closest thing to how I dress (and unbelievably, it's considered country, wow, didn't see that coming - my husband's probably chuckling right now).

Monday, March 12, 2012

Why Blog?

Why blog?  I keep asking myself this.  It never crossed my mind to have my own blog until I realized a few of the women from Mums & Toddlers have them. (M&T's is an international toddler play-group my daughter & I belong to.)  Each blog was so different... some of them had specific purposes, some of them were just to get feelings out, some were to help them deal with leaving the country they knew as home, etc., etc.  So why do I blog?  Many reasons.  My blog description explains the main reason I blog: this blog is about random things in my life, I like to talk and I like to share my opinion (whether asked for or not) and this seems like the best place for those quirky random fleeting thoughts!  But I also blog so that people can get to know me better.  For my family... the ones in The States who I don't get to talk to more than the occasional phone call, and the ones here & there that I do talk to often but don't know this side of me.  For my friends... the ones in The States who don't really know much about me now, the ones  here that maybe the language barrier keeps us from truly knowing each other, and the ones that know me well but are looking for a laugh.  For my acquaintances... the ones I have met during the past 9yrs of living abroad, and the ones I have met through M&T's.  It's a convenient way to tell everyone a story at once, it's a nice way for people to learn more about me, and it's a great way to help people out with things they may have been unaware of. 
But at times having a blog gets frustrating, there's a pressure to write about interesting things to keep the people coming back.  I also have to be careful to keep it semi-lighthearted, and not stand on a soapbox because most people I come in contact with have different political and religious views than I do.  There's also this constant curiosity as to if people are even reading the blog and if I am wasting my time.  Sure I can check the stats, there are the occasional comments, I have a few followers, and my parents are always sure to mention if they've read the last blog but I still wonder.  I obviously don't blog for myself, I could just as well keep a journal.  I blog because I want a place for people to go to get a good chuckle, to get informed, and to fill a spare moment in a day and age where everyone is attached to their smart phones or computers.  While writing this it has also dawned on me I guess I also blog for strangers, it's a public blog, anyone can stumble upon it.  In my quest to learn more about blogging I have ended up on a lot of blogs, ones about stamping, ones about challenges, ones about the city I used to live and the one I live in now.  The are so many bloggers in the world!  I guess I also blog to work on a different aspect of my creative writing.  Blogging is much different than the fiction stories I usually work on.  I'm imaginative, I'm a daydreamer, I walk to the beat of my own drum, whoever thought I'd end up writing non-fiction.  It's just a different way to express myself and explore life; I'm not a celebrity, I'm not a CEO, I'm a stay-at-home Mom, and my life is just as interesting.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hard Drive Crash

Ahhhh, my external hard drive crashed this weekend!!!  I have been beside myself since it happened.  I am such a fool for storing my life on a little black box!!!  I knew the risk and yet I took it.  Why didn't I have a better back-up?  Why didn't I use the external hard disk as a back-up and not a second hard drive to save space on my computer?  Why was I so cheap not to have put my data on the Microsoft Private Cloud?  Ahhhh!  My pictures, all of my pictures... 2 yrs of my toddlers life in pictures & movies, my books... 100's of ideas and rough drafts, my documents... years of graphing my bills, my genealogy... years of research, ahhhh!  I'm not a complete idiot, my completed books have a back-up and I luckily monthly post pictures of my daughter on Picasa, but still, so much was on that external hard drive.  I could careless about the music or films, they're easily replaceable, it's the personal/sentimental things that I am flipping out about.  When it stopped connecting to the computer I worried, I messed around with it for a while (it's copped out on me before, that's when the back-up's took place) but eventually had to go to bed.  It took forever to fall asleep, my head swarming with things that I could probably lose.  The next morning (a weekend morning) I awoke at 6:00AM, I couldn't sleep, I had to see if the drive started working again.  Like before I let it rest one night, turned it on its side, and voila, it worked.  But this time, nothing.  I let it be until my husband awoke, he said he'd take a look at it when he had time.  It was so hard not to touch it, but I didn't want to jinx myself.  Unfortunately, he couldn't get it working either. 
Being the weekend I couldn't get through to the manufacturer, Western Digital.  So I tried to patiently wait, every time I turned around I needed something from the external hard drive, ahhhh!  This morning I finally got through to WD, I wanted to follow the proper chain of commands not wanting to break my warranty, so that I get my data back and it not cost me a fortune.  At first it looked like I was going to have to mail the hard drive to a company in north Netherlands, Attingo, they're a data recovery company that is partnered with Western Digital.  But once I had WD on the phone they said I could just go to Media Markt; I stupidly got my hopes up.  I rushed to Media Markt, I was basically there when the doors opened.  But they were afraid to help me, they said if they opened the hard drive it would break my warranty and they were only authorized to trade it for a new one, not to retrieve the data.  My heart sank.  I explained that WD had told me Media Markt would open it and access the internal hard drive, but I didn't dare break chain of commands.  When I arrived home I called WD back, explained what happened, and he again confirmed any specialist could look at it. 
For my own reassurance I called Attingo, he basically told me because my external hard drive is encrypted there is no way Media Markt can help me.  Plus the clicking sound it's making means something is broken inside.  I never dropped it, I've never even knocked it over, but apparently I was using the hell out of it and that too can cause problems.  Attingo said I can send it to them for analysis, starting costs 238, ouch!!!  He said depending on what is wrong with the hard drive the costs can sky rocket to 1500 or more, ahhhh!  The information on the external drive is dear to me, but that kind of money is no joke.  WD said they'd replace my hard drive, if I follow the chain of commands, but there is basically no chance of reimbursement for data recovery.  I am beating myself up, why did I wait until it was too late?  Nowadays everything is digital, which I love, but in this circumstance I'm hating it.  Simplifying my life, getting rid of paper documents and printed photos, saving space at home, all of it for what, now so much is gone.  Boo-hoo!  I have to keep my head up though, there is still a slim chance I get the data back, and there are many people in the world with bigger problems, I just have to put it into perspective.